North Island eyebright
Euphrasia tricolor Col.
Vascular – Native
Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. North and South Islands, from East Cape to Marlborough Sounds; Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury.
Open rocky places, stream-sides and among scrub, sea level to 1500m a.s.l.
Perennial herb or subshrub up to approximately 600 mm tall; stems woody in lower parts, erect or ascending, branches usually leafy with small axillary branchlets, (more or less) uniformly or sometimes bifariously pubescent with short crisped white hairs. Leaves usually rather distant, lamina 5-15 (-25) x 3-10 mm, rhomboid-cuneate to ovate to suborbicular with 1-3 pairs of obtuse to subacute teeth and acute to obtuse triangular terminal lobe, cuneately narrowed into petiole 1-4 mm long, glabrous, margins usually flat, sometimes somewhat thickened and revolute. Inflorescence much-branched with small simple bracts or reduced to a simple raceme with flowers in axils of little-differentiated leaves; pedicels 1-3 (-6) mm long, shorter than leaves. Calyx 4-8 mm long, glabrous or nearly so, unevenly divided with deepest clefts up to 1/2 length; lobes acute to obtuse, midribs thickened. Corolla white, 15-20 mm long; tube much longer than calyx; lower lip distinctly longer than upper, lobes deeply emarginate, up to 8 mm wide; lobes of upper lip entire, obtuse, 3-4 mm wide. Anthers red-brown, conspicuously hairy, awns usually markedly unequal, lower 2 very long. Capsule distinctly longer than calyx when mature, 6-8 (-10) x 2-3 mm, narrow-oblong, narrowed towards base and apex, densely setose at tip, at least at first; seeds numerous, approximately 2 mm long.
January – March (May)
February - May
Seeds is dispersed by wind and possibly water and ballistic projection (Thorsen et al., 2009).
cuneata: From the Latin cuneum ‘wedge’, meaning wedge-shaped
There is great variation in size of all parts, mostly correlated with differences in altitude and habitat, but complete gradation between the extremes. Coastal and lowland plants have much-branched leafy stems and inflorescences; lower leaves with laminae 10-25 mm long, cuneately narrowed to distinct petiole, these narrowing and decreasing into linear-lanceolate, entire, or obscurely toothed bracts of inflorescence. Subalpine scrub forms usually have simpler, mostly unbranched, inflorescences, the floral leaves little different from the vegetative leaves which are generally small with only 1-2 pairs of teeth and sometimes barely petiolate. Plants from Mount Hikurangi, Mangapohatu and Mount. Taranaki appear especially distinct because of their uniformly broad-ovate to suborbicular leaves, with floral leaves longer-petioled and (more or less) spathulate. Round-leaved plants occur in other localities but not so consistently.
Cheeseman (1906) noted under E. cuneata: “There seems to be two main varieties – one tall and slender, with numerous leafy branches, narrow long-petioled leaves, and copious inflorescence; the other, which is principally montane and subalpine, and which corresponds to Colenso’s E. tricolor, is not so much branched, the leaves are shorter and broader, on shorter petioles, and the flowers are spicate along the upper part of the branches. It might be distinguished as var. tricolor.” Following this interpretation, the combination E. cuneata var. tricolor, has since been widely used for the reduced plants of higher altitudes.
E. diversifolia, Petrie (1917) based on a single collection from Mount Hector, Tararua Range, B. C. Aston (WELT 4853), was described as allied to but distinct from E. tricolor. The type material consists of a few slender stems bearing the long narrow capsules characteristic of E. cuneata; the calyx-lobing is more unequal than usual, pedicels are longer and the distant obovate leaves hardly petiolate. Specimens in (WELT) collected on the Kaimanawa Range by Aston match the type collection exactly. The status remains uncertain.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by M.D. Ward (3 November 2020) Description adapted from Allan (1961).
References and further reading
Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. 1. Wellington: Government Printer. Pages 851-852.
Cheeseman, T.F. 1906. Manual of the New Zealand Flora. Government Printer, Wellington.
Colenso, W. 1887. A description of some newly discovered and rare indigenous phænogamic plants, being a further contribution towards making known the Botany of New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 19: 259–271.
Petrie, D. 1917. Descriptions of New Native Flowering-Plants, with Some Notes on Known Species. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 49: 51–55.
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309
Please cite as: Ward, M.D. (Year at time of access): Euphrasia cuneata Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/euphrasia-cuneata/ (Date website was queried)